Protesters storm Serbian parliament after coronavirus lockdown announcement

Protesters stormed Serbia's parliament after the president announced a coronavirus lockdown will be reimposed this weekend.

Thousands have gathered in Belgrade to demonstrate against President Aleksandar Vucic's announcement despite the Balkan country reporting its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus .

A small fire could be seen illuminating the night sky as protesters cheered.

Police fired tear gas at thousands of people, with some chanting “Resignation! Resignation!" gathered in front of the downtown parliament building in Belgrade.

Some managed to enter the building by force, but were pushed back by riot police.

Police officers use pepper spray on demonstrators in front of the Serbian parliament in Belgrade. Credit: AP

The president called the virus situation in the Serbian capital "alarming" and "critical" as the city's hospitals neared capacity. Mr Vucic said the government would reimpose a curfew as of Friday.

He said it will "probably" last from 6pm on Friday until 5am on Monday.

He also said the groups of no more than five people would be allowed together.

Protesters gather in large groups outside Parliament. Credit: AP

The country's Health Ministry said on Tuesday that 13 people had died in 24 hours in Serbia and 299 new cases were confirmed.

That brought the total to 16,719 confirmed cases and 330 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in Serbia, which went from having one of Europe's strictest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening at the beginning of May. Football and tennis matches were played in packed stands and a parliamentary election was held on June 21 despite warnings from experts that the mass gatherings without social distancing could lead to a new coronavirus wave.

Many are against the lockdown in Serbia. Credit: AP

"We have probably relaxed too much., Mr Vucic said.

"Everyone thought it was all over," he added, angrily rejecting widespread criticism that his insisting on holding the election led to the lifting of the earlier lockdown and the recent coronavirus case spike.